GALLATIN, TN (WSMV) - A Sumner County couple said they were denied monoclonal antibody treatment at Sumner Regional Medical Center in August.

The monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 has been gaining popularity for several months. On the heels of this, the Tennessee Department of Health is recommending those who are not fully vaccinated should be prioritized for the COVID-19 treatment.

Jim and Carri Hawkins told News4 they were denied the treatment by the Gallatin hospital in August before the new recommendation from the Department of Health. Jim Hawkins said his wife was later hospitalized from the virus.

“On August 18 or 19 we went to Sumner Regional to get this treatment and we filled out all the paperwork and sat in the little COVID room, not feeling so hot, but thinking this is the right thing to do,” Jim Hawkins said. “Then they came out and told us we didn’t qualify for the treatment because we weren’t old enough. I’m 64, my wife is 63. They said you had to be 65 to get this.”

Jim Hawkins said they went to get the treatment at Sumner Regional after seeing a Tennessee Department of Health article on Facebook.

“After being denied the treatment, I reached out to the Tennessee Department of Health citing this article that I just read on Facebook that I shared with you and they said this only for really severe cases and that article didn’t say that,” Jim Hawkins said.

He said he got a response to the message that said: “Hi Jim, the antibody treatment should be available to anyone who falls in a high-risk category.”

“It was just confusing. We’re just getting conflicting messages of this treatment. It just seems like it should have been available for us and it wasn’t,” Jim Hawkins said.

While they battled the virus, Carri Hawkins’ condition got worse.

“My wife two days later went into the hospital for five days because of COVID and they diagnosed her with pulmonary COVID pneumonia and they also found blood clots in her lungs,” Jim Hawkins said. “We’re thankful for the work the hospital did and she was discharged five days later, but now she is on treatment for the blood clots. She had an echocardiogram on Monday and we await the outcome of that.”

News4 reached out to Sumner Regional Medical Center about the Hawkins’ situation.

“Due to patient privacy laws, we are unable to discuss this or any situation involving current or former patients. We appreciate your understanding of this policy,” the hospital said in a statement. “However, we can confirm that Sumner Regional Medical Center experienced an overwhelming increase of COVID-19 positive patients seeking care at our hospital in the month of August. This increase significantly depleted our supply of monoclonal antibody treatment. In an effort to allocate this therapy to patients with the greatest need, we temporarily implemented more stringent criteria for determining candidates for this therapy. This is an evolving situation, and we will continue to work with local, state and federal officials to manage and appropriately allocate our supply of this important treatment.”

As the Tennessee Department of Health is recommending that providers prioritize the antibody treatment, they are suggesting providers follow the NIH guidelines for the monoclonal antibody treatment, which prioritizes those who are most likely to be hospitalized.

Jim Hawkins told News4 on Wednesday that he and his wife would fit the Department of Health’s latest recommendation on the COVID-19 treatment.

“We would have fit that criteria. We were unvaccinated, we had COVID, we were pretty sick, but I’m one year under the 65 threshold and they just told us every hospital has different policies,” Jim Hawkins said. “We understand that, but the issue is that when you’re sick, you’re not going to go driving around hospital hunting or finding care; who is going to administer this or who is not going to have these restrictions? That was just tough.”

Jim Hawkins said he wishes they had gotten the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We probably did wish we got it. Hindsight is 20/20. We probably maybe would have wished we had,” he said.

 

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